Onside project praised by partners

Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Onside project has been credited with making a huge impact on the people they work with.

Launched in 2016, the Onside programme is delivered in prisons by Leeds Rhinos Foundation staff to prepare offenders for release and tackle the issue of re-offending. The overall aim, and the design of the programme, is to help build the skills they will need following release.

Doncaster firm Ardagh Glass has been working in partnership with Leeds Rhinos Foundation to support the programme and participants on the project were recently were welcomed to a Recruitment Day at their Doncaster plant.

The event was the culmination of the eight-week Onside course and consisted of a mock interview with senior staff from Ardagh Glass, a tour of the factory and presentations which had been researched and prepared during the course.

Steve Wilkinson, SOPEI at HMP & YOI Hatfield, said: “Programmes like this are really important. Some of the lads have never faced an interview or had to stand up and speak in front of people, so it gives them the opportunity to learn these skills which will be important in helping them to successfully integrate back into society when they do get released.

“I’ve seen several of the lads grow in confidence and start to come out of their shell, where they are now able to confidently stand up in front of a group and talk or sell themselves in an interview, which is fantastic for their development and future prospects.”

“Having that support from Leeds Rhinos Foundation behind the project gives the lads a huge incentive to get involved. That’s important, because having a willingness to take part can often be half the battle, but with this programme we’ve had some great feedback and all the guys who have come through the programme have spoken about how much they’ve taken away from it.”

Onside works with prisoners serving the last six months of their sentence and Ardagh Glass have played a key role in providing the participants with experiences that will prepare them further when seeking employment on their release.

James Grant, plant director at Ardagh Glass, added: “The content of today’s presentations was some of the best we’ve ever seen, and the guys came really willing to learn.

“I think that it is important for us to give back to our community and we are proud to support this fantastic project to show that Ardagh and its employees are prepared to help people.”

For more information, email Janet.Sylvester@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.